Patriots Notebook

No catches, but Crumpler is still receiving a lot of praise

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / October 4, 2010

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After nine-plus seasons in the NFL, Alge Crumpler is being discovered again. Crumpler may seem like the Patriots’ forgotten tight end, but what he is accomplishing doesn’t always show up as a statistic.

Rookies Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are getting the receptions, but they are benefiting from Crumpler’s guidance, according to quarterback Tom Brady.

“Alge’s been a great player for this offense,’’ Brady said. “You don’t see him because he doesn’t catch a lot of passes, but if you watch him and the way he can play on the line of scrimmage at the point of attack, he’s a great blocker. The running backs are real happy about having Alge on the team. When you run behind him, you know you’re going to gain some yards because Alge doesn’t get pushed back.

“He’s such a great guy. He’s a professional. He works his butt off. He’s a great example for the two rookies. He’s been a huge impact on this offense.’’

Crumpler, who is 6 feet 2 inches and 275 pounds, doesn’t have a catch this season, but he was a key part of a Patriots running game that gained 200 yards in last week’s win over the Bills. It was the first time since 2008 that the Patriots had rushed for 200 yards in a game.

“I mean, when you watch Tennessee the last few years with Chris Johnson running the ball, a 2,000-yard rusher — and Alge’s the tight end at the point of attack on those runs,’’ Brady said. “Everyone always wants to point to the running back — and he’s a hell of a running back, don’t get me wrong — but you need great blocking in front of you. Alge really provides that. And not only can Alge run block, but he’s a good pass catcher, as well.

“I have to do a better job of getting him the ball, too, in the passing game because he’s really good with the ball and he has great hands. He’s such a smart player. He’s gets in a good position to catch the ball.’’

Hernandez and Gronkowski often have said they try to learn all they can from Crumpler. He began his career with the Falcons and then played two seasons with the Titans. He signed with the Patriots in March.

“He’s a person that loves the game so much,’’ Hernandez said. “A person like him, you just have to pay attention to everything he does and everything he says because it’s only going to make you better.’’

Homework done
Stephen Gostkowski can review a stadium like he is a movie critic. He is familiar with the turf, the wind, and the other dynamics that may make kicking in that environment unique.

Gostkowski said there are some things to look out for in tonight’s game against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.

“It’s always pretty windy there, but it doesn’t seem to affect the ball the way it does here [in Foxborough], so there’s challenges every place,’’ he said. “You never know what kind of weather you’re going to get on any given day. There’s nothing too crazy about that stadium. I haven’t had to play with the baseball field yet.’’

Gostkowski will avoid the baseball diamond again. After the Florida Marlins game yesterday, the stadium crew began laying grass on the infield dirt, which should take by tonight’s kickoff, according to stadium spokesman George Torres.

Gostkowski is in his fifth season, yet his only field goal attempts at Sun Life Stadium were two made 30-yarders in 2008. He has not missed an extra point there in 16 chances.

Room to improve
There may be questions surrounding the Patriots’ defense, but the players are not letting outside opinions create a panic. Linebacker Jerod Mayo said his teammates “prepared well’’ in practice last week.

After three games, the Patriots’ defense ranked 27th overall, allowing an average of 379.3 yards.

The Patriots are 28th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 27.3 points.

“We all have words to say, but at the end of the day everyone is accountable for themselves,’’ Mayo said. “Every performance we’ve had this year, there’s always something that needs to be said. We’re just not playing like we need to play.’’

Monique Walker can be reached at

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